Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cruising the Web

Krisitn Tate, a libertarian author of a book explaining all the ways state, local, and the national government tax us, has a column in The Hill arguing that people will be leaving New York due to the high taxes that don't seem to be creating a better standard of living.
New York is the most expensive city in America. Its lower-cost neighborhoods are riddled with crime and homelessness. Its public schools, some of which are among the worst in the nation, look more like prisons than places of learning.

With between up to 50 percent of their paycheck going to a combination of federal, local and city taxes, not including other consumer taxes baked into every aspect of their consumer practices, residents don’t even have the comfort of knowing that their tax expenditures are going to the improvement of their lives in the city. New York infamously misuses the hard-earned tax revenues of its citizens in ways that scarcely benefit them.
Eventually, city and state taxes, fees, and regulations become so burdensome that people and corporations jump ship. More people are currently fleeing New York than any other metropolitan area in the nation. More than 1 million people have moved out of the New York City metro area since 2010 in search of greener pastures, which amounts to a negative net migration rate of 4.4 percent.
She posits that the GOP tax bill, because it repeals the deduction for the state and local tax (SALT) is going to speed up this out-migration from New York. And this is going to happen in other blue states with high state and local taxes.
he state’s highest earners — who have been footing an outsized share of the bill — will pay tens of thousands of dollars more in income taxes in 2018. In New York alone, loss of the SALT deduction will remove $72 billion a year in tax deductions and affect 3.4 million residents.
There's also an exodus out of California to other states and the people that are leaving, for example, California are upper-income residents whose tax bill the California government is depending on to help pay for all the government spending.
In fact, in 2016 the Golden State lost almost 143,000 net residents to other states — that figure is an 11 percent increase from 2015. Between 2005 and 2015, Los Angeles and San Francisco alone lost 250,000 residents. The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering — from green energy to wealth redistribution — have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.
Why wouldn't people who can find jobs or move their businesses decide to leave and go to a state where they can keep more of their own money and have a better standard of living?

Ladies and gentleman, this is government at work.
When the $2 billion Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) started construction in 2011, the plan was to have its central station serviced by long-distance Amtrak trains.

Construction finished in 2013 and while three different rail services currently operate at the station, Amtrak is nowhere to be found. The reason? The platform built for Amtrak is 200 feet too short for Amtrak's long-distance trains.

The problem was first discovered shortly after construction began, but who exactly is to blame for the multi-million-dollar mishap, or what is to be done about it now, remain open questions.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) claims that it was only informed of the platform length issue months after construction started. Amtrak insists that it kept FDOT fully informed of its needs throughout the pre-construction design and review stage.

Whoever is at fault, the problem is not easily remedied. Extending the platform an additional 200 feet would put it smack dab in the middle of the city's bustling 25th Street. In other words, extending the platform wold mean new construction in and around a busy thoroughfare.

CBS This Morning took a look at how China uses its control over social media to give everyone a score based on whether the government regards them as dependable and good citizens. It really is quite creepy.
By 2020, China plans to give all its 1.4 billion citizens a personal score based on how they behave. Some with low scores are already being punished if they want to travel. Nearly 11 million Chinese are not allowed to fly and 4 million are barred from trains. Next week, the program will start expanding nationwide.

The government says it is trying to "purify" society by rewarding people who are trustworthy and punishing those who are not, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. So like the credit scores most Americans have based on how they handle their finances, Chinese citizens are getting a social credit score based on everything from whether they pay their taxes on time to how they cross the street to what they post online.

When Liu Hu recently tried to book a flight, he was told he was banned from flying because he was on the list of untrustworthy people. Liu is a journalist who was ordered by a court to apologize for a series of tweets he wrote and was then told his apology was insincere.

"I can't buy property. My child can't go to a private school," Liu said. "You feel you're being controlled by the list all the time."

The list is now getting longer as every Chinese citizen is being assigned a social credit score, a fluctuating rating based on a range of behaviors. It's believed that community service and buying Chinese-made products can raise your score. Fraud, tax evasion and smoking in non-smoking areas can drop it. If a score gets too low, a person can be banned from buying plane and train tickets, real estate, cars and even high-speed internet.
Not only are you getting scored by all your online interactions, but also by everything you do in public because the government is planning to have more than 600 million cameras throughout the country. Your score is also affected by the people that you're friends with. So if you have a friend with a low score, your score might be lowered and that can affect your ability to go to college or get a good job. Thus the government will "nudge" people to behave the way the government wishes they do.

Ed Morrissey wonders how far away those of us in the west are from such behavior control as the Chinese government is installing.
There will be a great deal of tongue-clucking at the communist regime in China over this totalitarian realization of the “permanent record,” and there should be. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s not just among communists where the impulse to surveil everyone for transgressions real and imagined take flight. In the UK, a man got eight months in jail in part for flipping off his social-credit monitors who were busy watching him and everyone else as part of their massive state-owned surveillance system. Don’t think for a moment that a similar system operated here in the US by those who currently control the campus climate would result in different outcomes, if our political system allowed for it. It’s a lot easier to implement in already-totalitarian systems, but as the UK demonstrates, it’s not impossible without it either.

Why? For the same reason we demand the destruction of our political opponents rather than just their defeat. People don’t just desire to be proven correct, but want justice against the very idea that they were mistaken in the first place. We see the fruits of that in our social media discourse and in the efforts of platform owners to moderate and curate speech on them. As we allow our natural rights to erode, especially by surrendering privacy rights in exchange for the opportunities for such justice, we’ll all start tracking our own social credit scores and forming ourselves to the process of indoctrination.

Ask not for whom the Big Brother bell tolls. It tolls for thee, and for we. And don’t think that there won’t be some who will love Big Brother then, too.
Sometimes it's as if we're are living in a dystopian novel.

Kyle Smith has been reading
through Amy Chozick's book about Hillary Clinton's campaign and comes to the conclusion that Hillary just doesn't like people. She even described herself in college as a misanthrope. While her husband is an extrovert who enjoys engaging and charming people, Hillary just doesn't like spending time with them.
When Chozick shared Clinton’s amazingly light August schedule with an editor at the Times, the latter responded, “Does she even want to be president?” Clinton spent much of that month holed up with her rich friends in the Hamptons.

Clinton “suffered from a chronic inability to crack a simple joke,” Chozick writes. Even at special off-the-record drinks events specifically designed by her staff to allow Clinton to let her guard down and banter with reporters the way Barack Obama did, Clinton excoriates the journos for having big egos and little brains. On one such fence-mending effort in New Hampshire, Chozick writes, “She exuded a particularly icy aloofness and a how-long-do-I-have-to-talk-to-you-a**holes demeanor that made me feel as if I’d never been born.” Reporters felt so abused by the Big She during the 2008 campaign that when Clinton made an 88-second visit to the press bus proffering bagels and coffee, there were no takers. This is a bit like throwing raw filet mignon into a tank full of piranhas and watching it descend slowly to the bottom untouched.

You might expect Clinton to at least be sensitive to sexism. Instead she was a source of it. “She told aides she knew women reporters would be harder on her. We’d be jealous and catty and more spiteful than men. We’d be impervious to her flirting.” (Side note: Chozick actually thinks flirting with Hillary Clinton is something men want to do.) A running joke had it that the unofficial motto of Clinton supporters was, “I’m With Her . . . I Guess.” This, even though Chozick and other female reporters were sympathetic to Hillary based on gender solidarity: “I still felt some kind of feminine bond with Hillary then,” she writes of her early months on the beat, and later describes her coverage as “neutral to positive, with plenty of wet kisses thrown in.”
In a way, this description of Hillary's discomfort schmoozing with other people reminds me of descriptions of Richard Nixon. It's strange that people of such temperaments would even want to be in politics. I know that it is something that I would be particularly uncomfortable engaging in so it would never occur to me to enter a profession for which I'm so poorly suited. But some people's ambition is so large that they decide to go for it.

The tragic story of the sad, little toddler Alfie Evans and the fight between his parents and the British government over who gets to decide care for their son is so sad, but also dismaying. Who can say what any parent would do in such a situation. I might think that it is better to let the little boy die (and have even faced that tragic decision in my own past), but his parents want to provide him palliative care and keep hoping. They're not asking the government to pay for his care and have arranged for him to be moved to Italy and receive care there. So it's not a question of the cost of his care, but the decision of whether he should die or not die. And the judge and hospital have spoken: they think he should die and the parents should not have any say in the matter. If the positions were reversed and the parents wanted a child to die and the doctors thought he could survive and wanted to keep him alive, no one would question that the hospital should prevail. But this is a completely different question and it seems so wrong to give the hospital and judge the power to tell parents they can't take their baby out of the country to put in another hospital that is willing to accept him. As Ben Shapiro writes,
On Tuesday, a British court condemned a not-yet-2-year-old child to die. Now, make no mistake: The child, Alfie Evans, is expected to die in the near future anyway; he suffers from an undiagnosed brain condition that has robbed him of much of his function. But his parents simply wanted to be able to transfer him from a British hospital to an Italian hospital to seek experimental care.

And the British court system refused.

Citing the expertise of Evans' doctors, the courts declared that Evans' best interests are not served by his parents' attempts to save his life. Instead, the little boy would be deprived of life support, left to die without oxygen or water. The ruling, the judge said, "represents the final chapter in the life of this extraordinary little boy." But that chapter was written by the British bureaucracy, not by his parents -- the ones who will have to engrave his epitaph and visit his grave....

All of this is the final result of a system of thought that places parental control of children below the expertise of bureaucrats on the scale of priorities. It's one thing for the government to step in when parents are preventing children from receiving life-saving care. It's another when the government steps in to prevent parents from pursuing potentially life-saving care. And yet that's just what has happened repeatedly in the United Kingdom.
Would the matter be any different if the patient were an adult in a similar situation who had never left instructions on end-of-life care and the parents or spouse or children wanted palliative care and the hospital decided the patient should die? How is it that the government regards itself as more knowledgeable about what a family should do with its members if there is no actual harm being done? That is what we've come to. Shapiro continues,
Why? Why would British society place parents' wishes below the wishes of the state? Because a bureaucratic society of experts generally sees parents as an obstacle to proper development. Parents, in this view, treat their children as chattel to be owned and trained -- but the state can treat children with the dignity they are due. This means placing parental wishes to the side in every case in which those wishes come into conflict with the priorities of the state.

The bureaucrats of Britain don't merely usurp parental rights in the realm of life and death; they do so in the realm of upbringing as well. They have threatened religious Jewish schools for failing to inculcate children with LGBT propaganda; meanwhile, they have ignored the targeting of young women in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and Newcastle because the perpetrators are disproportionately Muslim.
He reminds us of this anecdote from Senator Phil Gramm.
Former Republican Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas was fond of telling a story about his time stumping for educational change. "My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do," Gramm once said to a woman. "No, you don't," she replied. "OK," said Gramm. "What are their names?"

Gramm's fundamental premise is inalterably correct: Parents care more about their children than do the members of the bureaucracy. But parents are being gradually curbed in their authority by precisely those bureaucrats across the West.
One by one, we're seeing what we used to think of as essential liberties eroded. And it is all done in the name of a government that is wiser and cares more than one's own family. We're not talking about physical abuse here, where few would disagree that the government has a role to step in and protect the child, but almost the exact opposite. And we in the West are becoming inured to that change and this sad, sad story is opening our eyes to what is going on.

And in case you are thinking that this couldn't happen in America, think again. Betsy McCaughey explains about how certain states have laws that give the hospital primacy in such cases. Texas is one of those states.
Sounds like what happens in Texas. In 2005, a court gave a Houston hospital the go-ahead to turn off the ventilator keeping baby Sun Hudson alive, over the mother’s objections. In 2017, again with a court’s OK, another Texas hospital cut off life support from 46-year-old Chris Dunn, who was awake and communicative, but descending into organ failure because of pancreatic cancer. His mother pleaded with the judges that the hospital was “trying to play God.” But Texas law gives hospitals that power.

George Pickering’s adult son was on life support in a Texas hospital. Doctors declared him brain-dead, but Pickering felt his son squeeze his hand to communicate, and was convinced he could recover. When the hospital started to cut off life support, Pickering holed up in his son’s room with a handgun to stop the process.

“They were moving too fast,” he said. He was arrested and jailed, but when he got out, his son had recovered — a rare outcome.

In other states, laws favor parents who are willing (or able) to go to court. Jahi McNath, a teenager, was declared brain-dead by a California hospital ready to stop life support. But Jahi’s mother won the right to take her daughter home, where she’s still living four years later on a ventilator.